Beijing busts assassins trying to kill Kim Han-sol

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Beijing busts assassins trying to kill Kim Han-sol


Kim Han-sol

Seven North Korean spies were secretly dispatched to China on a mission to kill Kim Han-sol, the eldest son of Kim Jong-nam, who was assassinated with a nerve agent in a Malaysian airport last February, but two of them were caught last week by Chinese authorities and are now being questioned in the outskirts of Beijing, according to a source who exclusively spoke with the JoongAng Ilbo.

The source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Monday that North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau recently sent the team to Beijing - apparently without China’s knowledge - to search for the 22-year-old nephew of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and kill him.

The scheme was busted when officials from China’s Ministry of State Security apprehended two of the spies, although how they did so was not disclosed. The fate of the five others was not mentioned either.

South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said it had no knowledge of the assassination attempt.

Kim Han-sol is the oldest son of Kim Jong-nam, who was himself the oldest son of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and half brother of the current leader. Kim Han-sol’s mother is Ri Hye-kyong, Kim Jong-nam’s second wife.

The couple also has a daughter named Kim Sol-hui, who is younger than Kim Han-sol. The family lived in Macau until early this year, when Kim Jong-nam was killed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the morning of Feb. 13 by a team of North Korean spies, which also included an Indonesian and a Vietnamese.

Kim Han-sol made international headlines in 2012 for calling his uncle Kim Jong-un a “dictator” during an interview with a Finnish television station. Wearing a black suit and tie, black framed glasses and with his ear pierced, the articulate teenager, speaking in fluent English, said he had moved to Mostar in Bosnia-Herzegovina to study at the United World College and hoped to work for “world peace” one day.

After his father was assassinated, Kim Han-sol resurfaced on a YouTube video uploaded by a group named Cheollima Civil Defense, saying, “My father has been killed a few days ago and I am currently with my mother and sister. And we are very grateful to…” The rest of the sentence was cut off. At the end, Kim said, “We hope this will get better soon.”

Cheollima Civil Defense later said in a statement that it responded to an urgent request by survivors of Kim Jong-nam’s family for extraction and protection, adding the three family members were “relocated to safety” without providing further details.

The group thanked the Netherlands, United States, China and an unspecified fourth government for providing emergency humanitarian assistance to protect the family, while highlighting the help of Dutch Ambassador to South Korea Lody Embrechts.

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